TEFAF Maastricht 2017

Silver Highlights by Helga Matzke – European Silver

On the eve of the international art fair TEFAF Maastricht, from the 10th to the 19th of March 2017, we do hope to welcome you at our booth, number 165.

In this article, we would like to draw your attention to our highlights – partly new acquisitions – before visiting us.

The art dealer Helga Matzke possesses a large and interesting variety of objects decorated with inset coins. These have an important historical character as they are on the same time objects representing their current time and their past. Silver objects decorated with inset coins were very often objects exhibited for their splendour but they were also a kind of memento of historical events.

Our collection of silver objects decorated with inset coins is enriched this year with a recent acquisition of a silver, parcel-gilt beaker with inset coins and an engraved city-view, made in Wroclaw by Johann Klinge. Its iconographical programme presents as focal point the city of Wroclaw showing an engraving of the city-view, being in an excellent condition. It is decorated with different silver coins, on the body, the cover and bottom of the beaker.

Beaker with inset coins, silver partly-gilt, Wroclaw 1727/37, Johann Klinge

The choice of the very different coins, stemming mostly from Saxony and from the Welf House, are most probably to be seen in connection with the ordering customer. Many of them are actually of a fine silver quality and show portraits of emperors, kings and counts, which is a sign that this object represented a status symbol of the ordering customer for his position in the city of Wroclaw. All this is connected with the development and blossom of the city after the 30-Years War and during the baroque era and of course with the ordering customer. Besides, it has to be mentioned here that when one compares the city-view with the one made by Matthaeus Merian (1593-1650) and Martin Zeiller (1589-1661), it becomes quite evident that the engraved city-view of Wroclaw on the beaker is based on it.

Next to this wonderful beaker, you can enjoy viewing at our booth a silver, partly-gilt standing cup from Augsburg made by the maker Matthäus Schmidt. This is an absolute baroque piece, which presents a love pair through Venus marina and the god Mars. The bowl of the cup has the form of a shell, which conforms to the trend of this period: that is silver cups whose forms imitate nature and made using different exotic, natural materials. In particular cups with bowls in the form of shells and Venus as the central figure of the décor are quite popular in the seventeenth century.

Silver-gilt standing cup, shell Venus, Augsburg 17th century

Standing cup with Venus and Mars, silver partly-gilt, Augsburg 1660, Matthäus Schmidt

This unique form of and height of the cup are distinct features which function also as a representation of the status symbol for the one who is drinking out of it. The Venus marina of the cup is to be seen in relation with a contemporary to the cup depiction of Venus. It is quite possible that the maker got his inspiration from a drawing made in 1652 by Jakob von Sandrart (1630-1708), engraver, publisher and founder of the academy of painters (1662) in Nuremberg, where he has drawn a Venus marina, Galatea or Fortuna (s. at the Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).

Two more of our favourite highlights for this year are connected with the world of travelling. We are excited to be able to show two travelling necessaries with their original case and objects made of silver and gilt. Travelling necessaires are cases, which can be transported and which contain the absolutely most necessary objects for the travel (the necessaries or “nécessaires”). They were more and more frequently produced towards the end of the seventeenth century. Their wide diffusion became important during the eighteenth century. These historical objects represent master works produced by several experts (goldsmiths, cabinetmakers, mirror manufacturers and leather goods manufacturers). Travelling cases are divided in under-categories: for coffee and tea, for eating, for the ladies’ toilet, and so on.

Case with silver-gilt fittings, 17th c.

Travelling necessaire in original case with silver gilt objects, Augsburg c. 1690, Peter Neuss II, Tobias Hallaicher

Our travelling necessaire from Augsburg, made by the makers Peter Neuss II and Tobias Hallaicher comes from the end of seventeenth century and has nine parts. All objects are made of silver and are gilt, they are worked in discrete design and are placed in tailored, lined with red velvet interior walls of the original case of wood, which is also covered with decorated leather.

Travelling necessaire in original case with objects of vermeil, Strasbourg c. 1790, François Daniel Imlin

Our travelling necessaire from Strasbourg is made by the maker François Daniel Imlin, comes from the end of the eighteenth century and has five parts. Both the objects and the case are designed in a strict, neoclassical, timeless style. The silver parts are again here placed in tailored, lined with red velvet interior walls of the hexagonal case. The case is decorated with green leather and punched with golden flowers. Both travelling necessaires and their content are kept in a remarkably excellent condition.

Furthermore, we have complemented our programme this year with a pair of exceptional reliefs from Ulm presenting biblical iconography. Both of them are in connection with Kind Solomon: The Judgment of King Solomon and the Visit of the Queen of Sheba. The reliefs are crafted out of one silver sheet and are embossed and punched. The height of the reliefs is moderate, however the master maker renders successfully both the perception of depth and the plasticity of the sculpted surface.

(a.) Silver gilt relief, The Second Visit of the Queen of Sheba, Ulm c. 1650-80, Hans Georg Bauhoff

(b.) Silver gilt relief, The Judgment of Solomon, Ulm c. 1650-80, Hans Georg Bauhoff

These two silver objects are maybe part of a triptych with King Solomon as the main figure. King Solomon is to be seen as a symbol of wisdom and justice. Very often, his figure was connected to patricians, individuals of the public life and also judges – hence, King Solomon was used both in a profane and a churchly context. Upon viewing, the reliefs have a very dramatic, almost theatrical character.  The figures are represented in a very lively manner; the room of the scenes are depicted in rich details; the composition is very well thought through. All this can be most certainly explained by the pictorial inspirations’ sources of the maker Hans Georg Bauhoff. For the Judgment of King Solomon this is a painting with the same theme made by the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens. And for the Second Visit of the Queen of Sheba a painting with the same theme made by the painter Erasmus Quellinus, a pupil of Peter Paul Rubens.

The small taste of the tour of our highlights for TEFAF Maastricht this year ends with a sensational object of the dining culture of the eighteenth century. The last highlight is a monteith – rafraîchissoir or verrière in French -, a vessel with several indentations on the rim in order to hang the glass from the stem and with the bowl towards the inside, where there is ice-cold water. The monteith is an absolute must of the high dining culture!

silver monteith bowl, Augsburg 18th century

Monteith, silver, Augsburg 1708/10, Johann Caspar III Gelb

Our masterpiece from Augsburg made by the maker Johann Caspar III Gelb is an early example of the begin of eighteenth century. This object is important not only because of its elaborate régence décor and its size, but also because of its provenance. It is namely a monteith that has travelled to England and this is witnesses by an engraved inscription on the bottom as well as by a splendid mounted alliance emblem of the General John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgewater (1753-1823) and his wife Charlotte Catharine Anne, daughter of Samuel Haynes. The monteith has besides experienced a long life after the death of the pair. As the 7th Earl of Bridgwater died, the title went down to his unmarried brother Francis Henry Egerton (1756-1829). He was an eccentric personality, well-known for organising dinner-parties for his dogs, but also for this collection of manuscripts, today at the British Library. The present monteith was then handed down to his family.

Come and see all these unique objects to our booth (165) in TEFAF Maastricht. Enjoy our many different silver artworks, discuss with us on them and let us know what you think and what are you looking for.

We are happy to see you soon at the TEFAF Maastricht 2017!